arunima ghosh
KOLKATA, 20 JUNE: Amidst improving political relations between West Bengal Chief Minister Miss Mamata Banerjee and her Bihar counterpart Nitish Kumar, travelling to the neighbouring state of Bihar will now become faster and more convenient. 
The Centre has recently approved a route linking Malda and Katihar through a bridge across the Fulhar river.
Rail-route is the only link with Bihar in this part of the state. Someone travelling to Bihar via road has to take the route through Dalkhola, in North Dinajpur and then reach the north-eastern district of Katihar in Bihar by travelling all the way to Purnia. The entire journey is time-consuming and the roads are in poor condition.
The newly approved National Highway ~ NH-131A ~ will start from Malda, connecting Ratua and Debipur in Bengal with Ahmedpur, Manihari, Kathihar on NH-31 and Purnia on NH-27 in Bihar. The new route will help cut down travel time. 
A total of Rs 249 crore has been sanctioned for constructing the 900-metre bridge and the approach roads. Officials at the Writers’ Buildings said since the issue of availability of land is not a problem in the area of the proposed bridge, work can be undertaken as per the schedule. 
The project will be carried out in EPC (Engineering, Procurement and Construction) mode for faster completion of the project and it&’s time-bound completion according to the latest guidelines issued by the Union Ministry of Road Transports and Highways (MRTH). 
After completing the official formalities with the Centre, the project will be started within six months and it will take around two to two-and-a-half years for completion, said an official. 
The demand for connecting Bihar across the river Fulhari had been long-standing. The issue had been taken up by President Pranab Mukherjee during his tenure as the Union finance minister. The state government had even approached Mrs Mausam Noor, MP of north Malda, to pursue the matter with the Centre and finally MRTH gave its nod.

Rail-route is the only link with Bihar in this part of the state. Someone travelling to Bihar via road has to take the route through Dalkhola, in North Dinajpur and then reach the north-eastern district of Katihar in Bihar by travelling all the way to Purnia. The journey is time-consuming.